Book Club Questions

One Fine Day

one fine day book cover
  • Do you find Joanna Bruckner to be a sympathetic or a frustrating character?
  • Could this story have taken place in the present, or is the fact it is 1969 important to the plot?
  • Is it just Joanna’s perception, or is her family really as unfeeling as it’s portrayed early in the book?
  • Joanna’s father writes a threatening letter to Lucien after her sister tells him about Joanna’s plan to follow Lucien to San Francisco. Were these unthinking betrayals, or evidence of real concern for Joanna?
  • How much of Joanna’s misadventures and soul-searching is because of her painful affair with Lucien, and how much is self-inflicted?
  • Explain why Joanna is both rebellious towards, yet influenced by, her mother’s preoccupation with social standing.
  • Do we get a good idea of what has shaped Joanna’s parents views on life?
  • Joanna is deeply conflicted about her ability to be anti-war in light of her father’s position with Monsanto. Does she succeed in coming to terms with this before she finds out her father’s true role?
  • Which of Joanna’s friends do you find the most interesting? Least?
  • Joanna’s questionable decisions mirror Kim’s through much of the book. Which character seems more accepting of the way things turned out?
  • Why do you think her parents let her go to France despite their misgivings?
  • Contrast how Joanna is portrayed in Lucien’s world versus how Lucien is portrayed in Joanna’s world.
  • Do you find Lucien a believable character? Do you understand him better once the plot shifts to France? Does a description of the culture enlighten us on his motives or muddy them?
  • Fate versus free will is an underlying theme in the book. Do you think Joanna has answered the question for herself as to whether choice or simple destiny directs the path she is on?

Between a Rock and a Dark Place

between a rock and a dark place book cover
  • Is the discovery of the main character’s body in the beginning of the book more effective than depicting it in real time at the end? Why or why not?
  • The story goes back and forth in time as the sheriff interviews suspects. Was this technique successful or confusing?
  • Are the suspects and possible motives realistically portrayed? Did each seem capable of wanting Daniel Perrault dead?
  • Which character was most appealing? Least?
  • Did the rural backdrop contribute to an uneasy mood in the book or have no impact?
  • The protagonist, Daniel Perrault, has many flaws. Why do you think he was unable to overcome them?
  • Are the sheriff and his deputies portrayed sympathetically?
  • What causes Daniel Perrault’s mood swings: his self-doubt, immaturity, or his feeling he’s unappreciated and misunderstood?
  • Would you like him as a boss? Why not?
  • Is his wife, Beth, too forgiving of his many transgressions?
  • What might be a better title for this book?